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The Pi Zero only has a micro USB socket, requiring the use of an adapter to connect an Ethernet cable.

Is there any reason I can't use something like this cable, or even attempt to make my own with some old CAT5 and a spare phone cable?

Would the adapter need any kind of chip on it?

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    I think that's just a USB <-> serial cable. There are usb <-> ethernet adapters (about the same price), and a driver for them, but pretty sure "ethernet" is more than just an RJ45 connector. – goldilocks Dec 7 '15 at 15:00
  • There are microUSB to LAN adaptors with or without integrated USB hub available on Aliexpress.com. They start at $2.50. – EDP Dec 7 '15 at 18:46
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You are correct:

Would the adapter need any kind of chip on it?

Yes it would - and the whole thing would be called a MicroUSB to Ethernet adapter!

For the record the advert on a well-known auction site you linked to (which won't be around for too long so will suffer link-rot) was for a short lead with an RJ45 connector on one end and a micro-USB on the other and was advertised to connect some mobile telephone (re)flashing equipment to a specific range of telephones. As such it would be almost useless (you could cut the RJ45 connector off and work out which cores could supply power from an external bench supply via the microUSB to a Pi, Pi+ or Pi2 - but that is about it IMHO!)

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I suggest a cable such as this Micro USB Host Cable Male to USB Female OTG Adapter.

Plug a wifi dongle in the end and you can access a wifi network.

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